Adam Christopher – The Age Atomic

While The Age Atomic (2013) by Adam Christopher is in many regards a science fiction novel, it takes place in the past of a slightly alternative Earth. I had not expected there to be a sequel to the novel Empire State even as there still were some loose ends. I had imagined it to be an idea he wanted to explore and develop and as such he concocted an engaging tale in it with the atmosphere of a noir. I was thus somewhat surprised there was a sequel and it was certain for me that I would pick it up. There were still some loose ends and I was interested in what kind of threads he would explore.

In The Age Atomic Christopher returns to the main protagonist of the first novel and not much time has passed since then. With a dark outlook of the near future I expected Christopher to follow a similar leisurely style with plenty of things happening. Christopher instead decided to pick another course. The plot immediately jumps to the fore, there is barely an introduction. Plot development, strangely enough, is rather more slow and straightforward. This effect is increased by a secondary independent storyline . In a way both storylines are somewhat gloomy and creepy. The characters were less convincing than before. Although Christopher takes his time to tell the story some things are lacking. Perhaps it is that many characters are familiar that there is much less new to tell or put them into a different course. Even so the characters remain unique and quite iconic. It is unfortunate that Christopher doesn’t manage to do more with them.

What remains ever so powerful in this novel are the vivid descriptions of the many otherworldly scenes of which the story is composed. At any time I could picture them clearly in my imagination. There aren’t many writers who are able to do this that strongly and it is one of the reasons why I enjoy Christopher’s novels. He doesn’t need many words to do so and that is what makes it impressive as too many words can dull the effect.

The story of The Age Atomic is not as encompassing and complex as Empire State. As a sequel it provides a conclusion to some of the loose ends. However it also shows that there was not that much more to tell. Christopher does put in as much as he can to create a full-fledged novel that will leave the reader satisfied at the end. It does not deliver as well as Empire State was able to do and that is always the downside to writing a sequel to a standalone novel of great quality. It is hard to match it or even top it. It is not as great but well recommended.

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